Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Paranoia is a Positive Catalyst for Government Policy

So says the Globe & Mail.

Admittedly, I might have missed something, but the Globe & Mail's editorial says that policies based on alarmism and reactiveness work and -- specifically with respect to the government's Arctic strategy -- concludes:
It is true that Canada was under-represented at a recent special meeting of circumpolar nations, and that the Tories could usefully revive the office of circumpolar ambassador, but in the end it is hard to make a case that this government has in any serious way failed in terms of its Arctic policy. If this constitutes alarmism and paranoia on the part of the Conservative government, then hope for more of it from Ottawa.

Beyond asking the simple question of what actually is to be delivered toward this grand Arctic policy versus what was promised, the paper which the Globe criticizes indicates that a real Arctic policy is necessary, a policy that should include diplomacy, an international effort to build bridges, and strong northern development in addition to the expansion of Coast Guard and military capabilities in the region.

Anyone may criticize any government, past or present, for failing to develop an Arctic strategy in this regard, but it should be clear that none of this appears in the current government's Arctic strategy and the Conservative Party deserves no special praise.

The paper argues that an Arctic policy should not be centred around issues of sovereignty or developed under an imagined threat of invasion. If no other country puts a flag on the Arctic floor or claims an unwanted island, then you can be certain that the government will drop this current Arctic policy.

In fact, the paper says as much:

After all, a crisis mentality is more conducive to symbolic reactions and hollow commitments, designed to serve positive short-term optics rather than sustained investment in Canadian capabilities and northern development.

The Globe & Mail would do well to remember that it was a Conservative government that reneged on the last "defend the Arctic" plan - it too was born from alarmism and reactiveness.

I'm sure, though, that this time it's different.

Updated: Cleaned up the wording a little bit.

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